A good architect or agent can provide invaluable advice to an applicant when considering a planning application. They can provide advice on County Development Plan policies, site selection, house design, effluent disposal, water supply and traffic issues. They should also identify the major issues in advance that may relate to a particular site.
It must be remembered that pre-planning advice is of a preliminary nature and cannot prejudice the performance of the planning authority or any other functions under the Planning and Development Act or regulations. It may be the case that a site visit is not undertaken as part of the pre-planning process, and therefore issues will not have been examined in detail. In addition, issues that may be relevant to the environmental health officer and area engineer will not be covered as they would not normally be part of the pre-planning process. Again, the role of a good agent is very important in relation to these matters.
It should also be noted that there is no third party involvement in the pre-planning process, eg affected neighbours, prescribed bodies, internal reports etc.
Wicklow County Council staff will give as much as advice as possible on the planning process; however, it is not the role of the staff to take the role of a good agent. Also, Wicklow County Council staff cannot make recommendations on what agent/architect to use.
Applicants should also be aware that a pre-planning consultation is not essential. In most cases, a good agent will identify the key issues for the applicant in order that an application may be submitted.